Black bears are solitary animals with the exception of individual family units or breeding pairs during the June-July breeding season. The great majority of their time is spent alone and on a seemingly endless quest for food. Bears are naturally shy and elusive animals that generally avoid contact with humans. The activity pattern of black bears is generally “crepuscular”, meaning active during the early morning and late evening hours.

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Photo by James Inman

Bears are extremely curious animals as a likely result of their intensive learning process as offspring. Emerging from dens weighing only 5–10 pounds, cubs have less than one year to learn the necessary skills to ensure their survival as solitary yearlings. This quickly promotes the development of exploratory behaviors as bears learn to locate food, find escape cover, and navigate through large territories.

Although black bears are generally secretive towards people, they can become extremely tolerant in the presence of concentrated food sources. Unfortunately, those sources are almost always a direct byproduct of human-related foods. Access to garbage, pet food, and intentional feeding creates behaviors in bears that are neither safe for humans nor beneficial to bears. While bears may appear very calm and non-threatening, they should be treated with respect as they are wild animals whose behaviors can be unpredictable.